Mealybugs are one of the most common houseplant pests. They are small insects that are covered in a white, waxy substance.
They attack the plants by piercing the leaves and sucking out the sap. And when they begin attacking, they can spread quite rapidly from leaf to leaf and plant to plant.
But how far can they travel? Do they fly?
Let's learn more about it in the following guide.
How Far Can Mealybugs Travel?
Mealybugs can travel several feet in a single day, but they don't usually travel more than a few meters from the host plant.
Usually, I have observed them building up colonies on a single plant before moving elsewhere. If you have many plants close together, they can quickly infest your entire collection.
While mealybugs don't typically jump, they can crawl a fair distance in search of a new host plant.
Can Mealybugs Fly?
Yes, mealybugs can fly, but they don't fly very well. In fact, they usually only fly when dispersing from their original host plant.
That said, not all mealybugs have wings. You can only find these characteristics in male mealybugs. The female mealybugs don't have wings but can still travel.
Apart from that, these bugs can travel through the air. It happens during the early stages of their life. The wind can transport the tiny, wingless nymphs to other plants.
Here's a comparison table to know the difference -
|Nymphs||They can travel far through air.|
|Male Mealybugs||They can fly a short distance to find another plant.|
|Female Mealybugs||They can't fly but can crawl.|
So, if you see mealybugs flying around your plants, they are already infested, and you need to take action quickly.
How To Prevent Mealybugs From Traveling
Although it's difficult to prevent mealybugs from traveling, you can take some measures to keep them under control.
Here are a few things you can do -
1. Move The Infected Plants Away From Other Plants
If one of your houseplants is already infested by these bugs, you should isolate it from other plants. This way, you can prevent the infestation from spreading.
You can either move the infected plant to another room or keep it in a different part of your house. Also, if the plant is heavily infested, I suggest you throw it away. This is because it won't take more than a few days for the bugs to reach other plants.
Note: If you still want to save such a plant, check out the following section. I have shared some remedies to eliminate the mealybugs.
2. Regularly Inspect Your Plants
We often ignore houseplants, which gives pests the perfect opportunity to attack them.
So, inspect your plants regularly for any signs of infestation. Look for the telltale white, cottony substance on the leaves and stems.
You should also check under the leaves for egg sacs. If you see any of these things, it's a sign of mealybugs infestation.
3. Avoid Overcrowding Your Plants
Don't keep too many plants close together. It promotes the spread of pests.
Ensure there is enough space between your plants. Avoid companion planting as well, especially if you live in an area where mealybugs are common.
4. Do Not Keep The Susceptible Plants
Yes, mealybugs can infest any plant, but some plants are more susceptible to these pests than others.
Here's a list of such plants -
- Coffee Plant
- Papaya Plant
- Sunflower Plant
- Citrus Plants
- Aloe Vera & Other Cacti Varieties
These are some of the known varieties that mealybugs love to feast on. I know getting rid of all these plants may not be possible. But try to limit the number of such plants in your house.
5. Keep Taking Care Of Your Plants
Mealybugs often wreak havoc on plants that are weak or have some other problems. If you have a weak or damaged plant, you must take extra care of it. Otherwise, it will be an easy target for pests like mealybugs.
Here are some care guidelines to follow -
- Provide adequate light to your plants.
- Water them regularly.
- Feed them with organic fertilizer every month or two.
- Prune the dead or damaged leaves and stems timely.
- Keep your plants in an aerated environment.
How To Get Rid Of Mealybugs From Your Houseplants
Here's how you can address the mealybugs issues in your plants -
1. Remove Them Manually
If the infestation is not severe, you can get rid of mealybugs by removing them with your hands.
For this, you will need a cotton swab or an old toothbrush. Dip it in rubbing alcohol and start scrubbing the affected areas of the plant. This will help kill the bugs instantly.
2. Use Neem Oil
Neem oil works great for the mealybugs issue.
To use this method, mix a teaspoon of neem oil with one ltr of water in a bowl. Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle and spray it on the mealybugs colonies.
Note: Do not use concentrated mix for this purpose. Dilute it with water as directed. Also, test the solution on a small area of the plant first to see if there is any reaction.
3. Use Insecticidal Soap
Another great remedy for mealybugs is insecticidal soap.
Like the neem oil solution, you should mix it with water before using it. Use a ratio of 3-4 tablespoons of insecticidal soap to 1 gallon of water.
So, these three remedies are good enough to get rid of mealybugs. Try any of them, and you will see the results yourself.
Important: If the infestation is very high and the plant is beyond saving, do not keep the plant at home. Also, disinfect the pot and other gardening tools to avoid further spread.
Yes, mealybugs move to other plants to find their food source.
Yes, mealybugs can spread quickly.
The female mealybug lays 100s of eggs at the base of leaves or stems. The nymphs that hatch are small, wingless, and white. So, it's quite easy for them to go unnoticed.
Mealybugs can only infest your houseplants. They don't usually live in homes for long periods. They need a constant supply of food (plant sap).
If there are many houseplants close together, mealybugs can target them quickly.
You'll know the mealybugs are gone when you don't see them anymore. It's always a good idea to check for eggs and nymphs, just to be sure.
Over To You
Mealybugs don't travel far, but they can quickly infest all your houseplants if you're not careful.
You can get rid of them using the above-mentioned methods. But if you still have any queries, please let me know in the comments below. I'll be happy to help.
If you enjoyed this guide, feel free to share it with your friends and family.
Leave a Reply